I like the opening of Episode 31, which shows Injo (previously known as Neungyang) disturbed even in his sleep by Gwanghae and Jung-myeong. It means that subconsciously he probably knows they’re right, but because of his inferior complex, all he wants to, and can do, is to oppress Jungmyeong and her allies to display his powers (which in fact, are held by Kim Ja-jeom).
Jung-myeong not only fights head-on with Injo, she also has to take on Yeo-jung, who is imo, a more difficult opponent than Injo. Yeo-jung has a mean streak, on top of being jealous easily. She probably hates that she is from a lowly rank in birth, thus it means everything to her to become the king’s woman, and she especially despises Jung-myeong for being born a princess. The Chinese have this saying: “Never offend a narrow-minded person”, because one doesn’t know to what length they’ll do to take revenge on you. Unfortunately for Jung-myeong, she offended not just one, but two extremely volatile and narrow-minded people, who’re out for her blood.
From Jung-myeong’s point of view, I guess she’s trying to get Injo to continue the policies left behind by Gwanghae, instead of the corrupt politics played by Injo’s supporters. But to Injo, she is simply interfering with the state affairs, and most importantly, looks down on him. For Yeo-jung, Jung-myeong upheld the rules of the inner palace, which Yeo-jung openly flouted (just because she knows she’ll be named a concubine soon).
Yeo-jung orchestrated her revenge (with the green light given by Injo, of course), making use of the “secret police” headed by Lee Gwal (who’d go on to stage a rebellion and successfully capture the capital with his rebel army). Together, they made false evidence, and accused Jung-myeong of cursing Injo with voodoo dolls, captured the cook ahjumma and her daughter Eun-seol (both from the Department of Artillery) and claimed that they’re Jung-myeong’s accomplice in the act.
Back to Jung-myeong’s battle with Injo, Kim Ja-jeom tried to get her over to their side, by offering her more lands (all royal family members have their own lands, which citizens are hired to work on, and pay their taxes to the owner of the land), thinking that Jung-myeong wouldn’t reject extra income. However, at a “meet-the-people session” (where everything is staged and scripted) Injo and his cronies decided to hold, a peasant (who was told by an official that he can say anything he wants) revealed that Jung-myeong waived all taxes for those working on her lands, and this piece of news had Injo all shaking with anger.
The official who told the peasant (in the previous paragraph), is none other than Choi Myung-gil (Im Ho), who will play a pivotal role in Joseon’s acceptance of Qing China’s demand of Joseon being a vassal state. For now, he is seeking for an alliance with Jung-myeong, presumably because he doesn’t agree with Kim Ja-jeom.
Kang Joo-seon and his wife are looking for ways to revive their family glory, and while she decides to make an acquaintance with Yeo-jung, In Woo suggests to his father that an alliance can be made with Kim Ja-jeom. Both crafty old men see eye to eye with each other, and decided to kick Jung-myeong out of the scene.